To continuously understand the performance of listed companies in investor relations management, guide and standardize their work in this regard, and promote the improvement of the quality of listed companies, SZSE recently launched a survey on the investor relations management of SZSE-listed companies in 2020. This is the second year in a row that SZSE has conducted such a survey. A total of 2,290 valid questionnaires are received, covering 97% of listed companies on SZSE. The survey unveils that:
The listed companies generally took investor relations management seriously, had a strong will to convey enterprise value to investors, and paid close attention to compliance management in the working process. 95% of the listed companies have formulated policies on investor relations management, and 46% have made revisions based on practices. From the perspective of objectives of investor relations management, helping investors understand the company's business development strategies, displaying the company's intrinsic value, and strengthening communication with investors were the three most important objectives of listed companies. Among them, the importance of "helping investors understand the company's business development strategy" and "displaying the company's intrinsic value" rose from the second and third places in 2019 to the first and second places. From the assessment indicators of investor relations management, listed companies attached the greatest importance to "the assessment results of regulatory compliance", which ranked second in importance in 2019, followed by "the number and quality of communications with investors" and "the attention to and reply on Easy IR".
The investment of listed companies in investor relations management saw an increase, basically meeting the needs of carrying out daily work and improving professionalism. In terms of staffing, 73% of the listed companies assigned 2 full-time personnel for investor relations management, and 22% assigned 3 full-time personnel. "Board secretary + Securities affairs representative" remained the dominating pattern of staffing. In terms of funding, 78% of the listed companies spent less than RMB300,000 on investor relations management, and the proportion of companies spending more than RMB100,000 increased by 13 percentage points compared with 2019. For staffing and funding, 58% and 80% of the listed companies respectively believe that they can meet the existing needs. To improve professionalism, 78% of listed companies hired or are considering hiring professional service providers, an increase of 4 percentage points compared with 2019.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the shift towards online investor relations management for listed companies achieved remarkable results, and Easy IR became the primary channel. In 2020, the listed companies communicated with investors online mainly through Easy IR (97%), online shareholders' meetings (76%), online briefings (61%) and other channels, mainly in the form of text-based Q&As and teleconferences. About 80% of the companies believe that online communication can improve the efficiency of receiving investors and the communication results are satisfactory. As the primary channel for investor relations management, 367,000 questions were raised on Easy IR in 2020, an increase of 50% year-on-year, among which the year-on-year increase from February to April amounted to 150%.
The listed companies took voluntary information disclosure more seriously than before, and law-based disclosure was their focus. In 2020, 51% of the listed companies made voluntary information disclosure, focusing on industry operation, corporate governance and strategic planning. The vast majority (98%) of these companies believe that voluntary information disclosure helps convey their growth attributes and potential value to investors. 20% of the companies had difficulties in determining the content of voluntary information disclosure, mainly hindered by the need to ensure consistency and completeness of the disclosure, the large amount of risk warning information, and the easy-to-understand wording while avoiding ambiguity.
The listed companies began to form an ESG awareness and were willing to exchange ESG information with investors. 92% of the listed companies believe that ESG falls into the category of investor relations management, 70% believe that ESG rating has an important impact on investor confidence, and about half state that they answered ESG-related questions and disclosed ESG-related information in 2020. Although the number of companies disclosing ESG information has increased in recent years, the proportion is still moderate. The listed companies believe that coordinating business departments to collect information (80%), formulating clear special plans (77%), and working with business departments to prepare reports (71%) will help investor relations management teams promote social responsibility or ESG reporting practices.
Improving the investor relations management with respect to institutional investors has become the focus of the listed companies in the next stage, and there is an urgent need to strengthen training on investor relations management theory and practice. The listed companies believe that changes such as entry of medium and long-term capital into the market (86%), changes in regulatory requirements for information disclosure (79%), and increased awareness of investors and shareholders (68%) will further enhance the importance of investor relations management. Among them, the importance of "entry of medium and long-term capital into the market" rose from the second place in 2019 to the first place, an increase of 11 percentage points. How to manage the relations with institutional investors has become the next-stage focus of listed companies. To further professionalize investor relations management, the training needs of listed companies mainly concentrate on regulatory concerns for information disclosure and corporate governance (90%), investor relations management experience sharing of listed companies (89%), investor relations management theories (86%), interpretation of investor relations management guidelines (84%) and how to communicate with institutional investors and overseas investors (80%).
Improving the quality of listed companies is the eternal theme of capital market. Improving investor relations management is helpful to enhance the sustainability and intrinsic value of listed companies and promote the stable operation and healthy development of the market. SZSE will continue to promote the listed companies to improve corporate governance, heighten transparency of information disclosure, actively guide them to conduct two-way communication with investors, and strive to build a new development pattern of investor relations management.